Prop 24: Education and health vs. corporate tax breaks…

Massive cuts to education, health care, and other key services. Significant tax increases. Marathon legislative sessions that lasted through the night. The state budget passed in 2009 was loved by nobody.

In health care, over three million California parents, seniors, and people with disabilities at or under the poverty level lost a range of key medical benefits—from dental to vision to podiatry to psychology services. State funding for community clinics was zeroed out. Major services to provide care from everything from maternal care to AIDS was severely cut.

In the midst of the elimination and evisceration of key programs and services that all Californians depend on, what added insult to injury was the inclusion of major corporate tax breaks. In the middle of major cuts, some legislators held up the budget unless they got included corporate tax giveaways that would take effect in a few years.

It’s hard to believe. While the state was making severe cuts, the legislature passed corporate tax giveaways to dig the hole deeper in future year—necessitating additional cuts in the future.

If these corporate tax breaks are allowed to go into effect, the state budget would lose over $1.3 billion dollars—thus forcing either additional cuts to health, education, and other vital services, or new taxes on the rest of us.

That’s why we need to pass Proposition 24, to repeal these corporate tax giveaways, leaving the tax levels at where they are. Proposition 24 will prevent additional cuts to programs and services like education and health that already have been hit hard.

To give a sense of what $1.3 billion means, it is more than the entire cost of our state’s Healthy Families program, which provides health coverage to 900,000 low-income children. With just a fraction of $1.3 billion, we could restore all the Medi-Cal benefits and community clinic funding cut in that 2009 budget.

Passing Proposition 24 makes sense for our families, and our health and education systems, but also our economy. Giving corporate tax breaks provides no guarantee of jobs or economic stimulus in California.

In contrast, investing in core services like health care provides the biggest “bang for our buck” in improving our economy. For example, most health and human service programs provide federal matching fund—for every dollar we spend in Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, we get another dollar or two from the federal government, for our health system, and in our economy. California has made cuts that have prevented our state from claiming federal matching funds that are rightfully ours, and forced us to leave those dollars in Washington, DC.

Investments in health, human services, as well as education, also are smart economically because they can’t be outsourced. By definition, they go to pay for jobs here in California, from nurses aides to teachers. The economic benefits of these dollars, whether they go directly to low-income families or middle-income workers, are sure to get recycled in our economy. There no guarantee with a corporate tax break that they just don’t save those dollars out-of-state or even overseas. A study by UC-Berkeley academics revealed that spending on health and human services provided many multiple times more jobs than upper-income or corporate tax breaks.

This is not the time to be giving away corporate tax breaks worth over $1 billion, not when we are making such dire cuts to schools and hospitals that we all rely on.

Proposition 24 doesn’t increase taxes, it simply maintain them and repeals a tax break that has yet to take effect. If Proposition 24 fails, then that will only increase pressure to make additional cuts or raise other taxes on the rest of us. That’s not good for our state or our economy.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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